With cap and gowns being the official look at graduations, these events tend to promote uniformity. But they (for the most part) do make room for a little individuality. Some people take advantage of this by wearing something eye catching in the form of shoes and others by decorating their caps with personalized messages. But when Alfredo Bisset (who likes to go by both she and he pronouns) accepted his degree in graphic design from the Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León, he decided to go as Rebel Mörk, the drag character he’s developed over the last few years.
Dressed in a fluffy sleeved and sparkly gown, which she paired with blue elbow-length gloves, Rebel was hard to miss at the ceremony. While some assumed the outfit was a way to draw attention to herself, Rebel explains that the outfit was a way to make a statement on public perceptions of drag culture.
“Many people tell me that I attended the ceremony in this way to [garner] attention, and this is not true,” Rebel tells Remezcla in an email. “I did it as protest, a way to be seen as culture, because we are also part of a society. Drag means something beyond the usage of wigs. It brings a message. It educates people and makes us live the art. It inspires others to make a difference. Because it is not easy to live in a butch or ‘macho’ state, and thus deal with people who are not prepared to live with a diverse community.”
Rebel also didn’t decide to just show up in drag for graduation. She asked for permission first, and she was overjoyed that her school made her feel so accepted.
“Neither my teachers nor colleagues, let alone the director, told me NO,” Rebel says. “They supported my idea and offered me help in whatever [capacity]. At the end of the day, being at an arts university, in which diversity and culture is encouraged, I received praise and congratulations from them because it is a big step as an academic institution. This fills me with joy, because I felt the support of my university.”
Bisset’s classmates have known about his drag lifestyle since the beginning, so it also didn’t come as a surprise. And they even outright encouraged him.
Dressing up as Rebel was successful as many shared and commented on her picture online and because it’s also a reflection of the changing relationship with herself.
“When I entered college, I was not the same person as I am now,” she says. “This [is] because I would suffer greatly in different ways due to my sexual orientation. I was not the kind of person who was proud to say he is gay because I grew up with too many prejudices about how you must be a ‘man,’ and this gave me a [variety] of life problems, affecting me psychologically through depression and anxiety. It was from photography where I began to give birth to Rebel. I consider photography [and Rebel alike] as healing. Then I started to play with makeup and I made a series of self-portraits to release all my emotions and thoughts.”
And now that Rebel has received her degree, she hopes to keep merging art with drag and celebrating all parts of herself.